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Old 08-03-2018, 09:52   #16
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Originally Posted by Alex_V View Post
So, I am planning to move my newly purchased boat from Annapolis to Beaufort, SC this may, Maybe June. She is a Sabre 34 with a 4,6 draft. 25 gallon fuel tank that feeds a 27hp Westerbeke.

It is my first trip in this part of the US.

I am thinking the first 2/3 of the trip to do ICW. Should I pretty much plan on motoring all the time? Or is actually sailing some an option. Will try to stick with daylight only.

What is a good point to get into open water to stretch it legs a little? Somewhere closer to Charleston?

Any tips, thoughts comments? How much time would this roughly take?
Charleston to Beaufort on the outside is a nice run.
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Old 08-03-2018, 10:09   #17
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

I used to own a 1981 Sabre 34 MK 1. What year is your Sabre.

Suggest that you get a copy of the ICW guide. Plan out each day in advance - know your stopping point before you lift anchor and pick your start time accordingly. Fifty miles per day is about right. There are some stretches where you may be able to do more but BE SURE to know where you are stopping for the night.

With only 25 gallons fuel capacity it is a good idea to get a few fuel jugs to extend your range.

Take the dismal swamp route and be sure to stop at Elizabeth city.
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Old 08-03-2018, 13:09   #18
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

Check out Ann and Bob Sherer's Blog on his trips down the ICW. He has info on all points between NJ and Florida. He also prints his own cruising guide to the ICW. Lots of great information on his site.Was recomended by Active captain.

Cruising Down the ICW 2017: ICW - Some Tips
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Old 08-03-2018, 13:12   #19
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

YES on the Waterway Guide!
Make sure you have a really clear understanding on which Inlets are actually usable. Many are "local knowledge only" and certainly not usable in the dark or in bad weather.
I would stay "inside" down to Beaufort NC, then if you have a clear weather window decide if you should go "outside down to Cape Fear. Do this at each usable inlet.
Most folks don't understand how much time it takes to enter/exit these inlets when you actually run all the way out to the sea buoys. Many more do not understand the haZards involved in short cutting near these inlets where several have breakwaters that extent more than a mile offshore, and are often submerged at all but low tide.
Something that I finally came to understand was that when southbound, you have to sail PAST many of the inlets, and then sail BACK North East to actually get into the inlet. Many or most have Capes, or Bars, that seem to run S, or SSE that need to be avoided.
When the wind was RIGHT I have sailed the length of Pamlico Sound running Dead Down Wind, as well as the nearly 100 miles from the Cape Fear River, to Myrtle Beach because it is pretty straight and the wind can funnel.
I have also sailed Northbound from St Mary's Inlet all the way to Beaufort SC with NO ENGINE all in the AICW, but it was a hell o a lot of work, and it all played on waiting on wind and tides to work with me.......kinda just like a Sailor I guess.
I do a lot of Solo Deliveries, so I tend to sail long days. I don't mind sailing at night, inside or outside so that extends my range. I also have done it enough times that I know where the anchorage are, and where the bailout points are.
I know where the shallows are, but don't ask how I know.
I LIKE the inside, but again I am SOLO a lot. Long offshore stints are tougher as I get older.
One other thing to mention.....last weekend, being the first weekend in Mar or so there was a blow, and I heard a report of a Container Ship losing 70...SEVENTY!!!! containers off Cape Hatteras. Many will sink, and many will get a ride out to sea on the Gulf Stream, BUT SOME may make their way into the southerly countercurrent that runs close to shore so keep a good watch for floating debris is my advice. My last trip from South Florida to NYC offshore I encountered a LOT of floating junk from all these storms we have had in the past year or so.
So don't make a tight schedule, and just enjoy it! Err on the Safe Side, but not so safe it takes all the adventure out of it. Hone your skills, then when the time is right, stretch yourself just a little bit, but not foolishly. Not many folks ever get to do what you are about to do and you will feel really good about yourself when it is done.
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Old 08-03-2018, 17:49   #20
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

Lots of good advice that is appreciated. I still have some time to get ready and study the charts.

It is a 91 Sabre 34 Targa that I recently acquired. So I will be taking it easy for a few test runs first, before heading south.
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Old 09-03-2018, 04:49   #21
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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We did it in November from Annapolis to Charleston for the first time. We did Winyah Bay to Charleston outside and it was the best day of the trip. We are going to do more jumps outside heading back in April, weather permitting.

We started in mid-November, but then broke the trip to Charleston into two legs while we took a break for family visits over the holidays... so we didn't get here 'til mid-January.

Which marina are you in? We're at Ashley...

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Old 09-03-2018, 05:42   #22
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

We have made this trip 8 times now, in a 45 foot ketch with a 5.5 foot draft and a 54 foot air draft. My observations are just that...mine. YMMV

It is possible to sail parts or all of the ICW. It is possible to run across a busy interstate. I would not recommend either. Sailing the ICW means that you have to get the wind in the right direction and in a lot of places on the ICW (particularly once south of Oriental, NC), the path gets to winding. You set the sails, sail for a quarter mile and turn. Reset the sails and turn. Reset and turn. If you have plenty of time, you can do it - but if you want to sail, go offshore. It's faster and you can really sail. Also, I have heard the bridge tenders in North Carolina tell sailors that they cannot sail through the bridges. I don't know if that is hard and fast or just individual BT, but take it for what it is worth.

When using Active Captain, evaluate the advice you get against your actual experiences. Some people are really good and provide useful info (Bob423 on AC is the Bob mentioned earlier - this man would never pay for a drink in any town on the ICW if it were up to me). Some people provide less useful info - posting that they "ran aground" at a certain spot where I can't find less than 12 feet of water makes me curious how they did it.

There are many places on the ICW where you can get a marina slip, but the only place where I have felt I had to was the area around Myrtle Beach. There are not a lot of good anchorages between Southport, NC and Winyah Bay and the ones that are there tend to be small. Counting on getting a spot can be really disturbing when you get to an anchorage just before sundown and discover that you are the fifth boat in an anchorage big enough for four.

If you are going to run at night, make sure your towing insurance is up to date. I have never made a run through that area where there have not been crab pots in the channel. They are unlit and sometimes even painted black. When the current is high, they can get pulled low in the water. They are hard enough to see in the daylight. 'Nuff said.

Regarding going in and out the inlets - we have done it both ways. I agree with the earlier comments that there are parts of the ICW that are truly skinny and you need to time the tides occasionally. On the other hand, having to go out two or three miles to clear the shoals, then having to drop south of an inlet and then turn north to get into a channel, all the while timing the tides (again) to ensure that you are not trying to get into an inlet with a full-throat tide running against you can make the inside path seem easier of the two. If you are going outside, go far enough to make it worthwhile. We have left ST Augustine and come in at Port Royal (the sound for Beaufort, SC) as an overnight, and Jacksonville to Charleston, also as an overnight. On the other hand, we once took four hours to get around Hell Gate in northern Georgia (we didn't want to wait for the tide to come in enough to cross that bar). Winyah Bay to Port Royal Sound is a good run.

Last comment - shift your electronic navigation to Statute Miles and Miles Per Hour. Most documentation on the ICW is in statute miles and when you are trying to time your arrival at a bridge that is listed as being 6.3 miles ahead, it's easier to do so when you know you are traveling at 6.3 miles an hour, rather than 5.47455 knots.

Good luck and enjoy the trip.
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Old 09-03-2018, 06:01   #23
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Originally Posted by boat_alexandra View Post
As mentioned, sailing is possible the whole way. I have no engine and recently passed through the dismal swamp.
This deserves it's own thread. I can't imagine trying to find wind and stay off of the banks and out of the way of barges from Annapolis to Beaufort. I'm not doubting at all that you have done it, and I'd love to hear about the challenges.
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Old 09-03-2018, 09:06   #24
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

My brother and his wife have extensive experience with this route. He has provided the following. Hope it is of value.

We are very familiar with that route having done it several times and we spent over 10 weeks in the Chesapeake. The Pamlico was our home base as we were berthed in Oriental. We have made the journey described below many times.

Regretfully, I do not have my charts with me anymore but will try my best to provide some insight.

First off the captain will need 2 sets of charts. They are available in book form. One book will cover the Chesapeake down to Norfolk and the other the ICW from Norfolk south. I strongly recommend charts and guides from Blue Water Books. They are not cheap but are an essential tool for this journey. Also there are great guidebooks covering these areas. Do not leave home without them! The ICW is a tricky route as it is shallowing in many places due to lack of funds for the Army Core of Engineers . The newest versions of the charts will provide information on buoy movement, and depths. The guide books will help identify good gunk holes for anchoring overnight and the best marinas to stop at for overnight stay, fuel and provisioning. Please remember that a chart plotter is great but it must be up to date and never replaces a set of sharp eyes and good binoculars.

If the boat has been sitting idle for a season or more it is highly recommended that the fuel be drained and the tank cleaned. Moisture in the tank will build mold and fungus that will clog the fuel filters and stall the engine. Have fuel filters in your spare cabinet in any case. Also have the engine oil replaced and get the bottom cleaned and new anti-fouling paint applied. A clean bottom will increase your motoring and sailing speed up to 1 knot which is a lot for a journey like this. If you plan to anchor out along the way, check all your ground tackle carefully. A Delta style anchor is the best for the soft mud conditions you will experience on the ICW anchorages. These actions may seem expensive and take a while to accomplish but there is nothing worse than an engine failure or an anchor slipping as they always occur at the worse possible moment. Spare parts for head maintenance and a spare potable water pump are good ideas to have onboard. Remember, any ship system that has not been used in a while is subject to almost immediate failure. In my experience, boats hate to be idle and not being used, in most cases, is worse than heavy usage. Also ensure that your holding tanks are emptied and cleaned. This also applies to your water tanks.

Do not leave the dock without a contract with one of the towing services. (Tow Boat or Sea Tow). If you have a breakdown or run aground, you will pay thousands out of pocket to be "rescued" without one of these services. We had Tow Boat at the Gold level and were very pleased. It is very cheap insurance.

The best sailing (winds and weather in agreement) is in the Chesapeake. These waters are wide open and the only challenge is the large cargo ships that ply those waters. There are also numerous anchorages and marinas along the way. I would recommend at least a week practicing in those waters before attempting the journey to Norfolk. This will allow the crew to establish routines, shake down the boat and identify any shortcomings. Annapolis is a major sailing location where spare parts, repair facilities and marinas abound. Take advantage of this opportunity to check out all the systems. The boat survey is useful and the sea trial is helpful but they are too short and too limited to really get an understanding of what the boast is really about. Anchor out a few times and ensure the refrigeration is working and the ground tackle is appropriate etc.

You will reach Norfolk at the south end of the Chesapeake which is a real experience. The US Atlantic Fleet is based there and military ships are everywhere from nuclear submarines to aircraft carriers. Don't get too close to them as armed guards stand on the bows to prevent sabotage. Norfolk is the start of the southern section of the ICW. The ICW is the only way to go from here that makes any sense unless the captain is an experienced open water sailor because it will take days to get to another navigable inlet if he goes outside. Overnight passages are not something to take lightly.

Heading south from Norfolk there are 2 routes available. You can take the ICW (my recommendation) or you can take the Dismal Swamp route. The Dismal Swamp route is more sheltered but the water is thin and the channel is narrow. There are also 2 locks that need to be navigated. The ICW route is open to the weather especially through the Currituck Sound but the channel is wider and better maintained. Watch out as you pass through the Albermarle Sound as crab pots are everywhere. Also, check the status of the Hwy 64 bridge over the Alligator River as it is under maintenance this year and may have restricted opening times.

Once you enter the Pamlico Sound sailing is again possible depending on winds and weather. At the bottom of the Pamlico Sound you will re-enter the ICW. This section is well maintained all the way to Morehead City as there is regular barge traffic. (watch out for barges...they have the right of way and look huge when you approach them in the channels!). The Pamlico Sound is a fairly shallow body of water. It can get really choppy if the winds are up. There are also many great anchorages.

From Morehead City you can run the ICW south. However, this section down to Southport is not well maintained. We much preferred to wait for a weather window and sail outside to Wrightsville Beach NC. The channel going out at Beaufort and in at the Mason Inlet near the town of Wrightsville Beach are commercial routes and are well marked. All you need is one day of suitable winds (or no wind at all and simply motor all the way). You only need to be 1-2 miles offshore all the way so you are never out of sight of land. If you want a real thrill and have the time, after leaving Beaufort, sail north to Cape Lookout and anchor in the bight. It is a remarkable place to spend a couple of days especially if you get a chance to go ashore and explore the sand islands. From Wrightsville Beach take the ICW south through Snows Cut (watch out the markers reverse part way through) to Southport. There is a great marina at Southport.

Once again, I would suggest waiting for another weather window at Southport and exit back outside at the Cape Fear River and go outside south to Georgetown. Once again, the ICW is a mess along this route and is very challenging and the SC tides make traveling the next section extra nerve wracking. There is a great marina in Georgetown to spend the night.

From Georgetown, running the ICW the rest of the way to Beaufort SC is pretty good. There are anchorages and marinas along the way.

While on the ICW never put up any sails and watch the markers carefully. Run in the middle of the channel whenever possible. Remember, the markers identify hazards. Stay away from them. People often feel it is safe to be near them as it gives them a false sense of security because they know where they are. However, because the ICW has silted so badly and is so badly maintained in many areas, getting near a marker is dangerous. The good news is that the vast majority of the bottom is mud and if you do go aground it is unlikely that you will hole the boat. Only the apply named "rock pile" passage presents a real issue for bottom damage.

While running the Chesapeake, Pamlico Sound or outside feel free to raise sails. Motor sailing (sail(s) up and engine running) is also a good way to keep your speed up and reduce your fuel usage. Never put up a sail while traveling the ICW channels as it blocks your visibility of markers and approaching boats. A sudden gust or a moment of inattention will almost certainly result in a grounding.

If you cannot make some of the passages mentioned, one good thing is that the draft of this particular boat is good. Anything over 5' is problematic with the current poor condition of the ICW. Plan your departures and arrivals carefully as tides are significant in many places making your passages really slow if you are against them and the water gets really thin at low tide. High tide can also present a challenge if your mast is close to 60' as the bridges have only 65' clearance at mean high tides. Some sections of the ICW in SC have tides approaching 9'.

Studying up on the rules of the road, the protocol to have the bridges open etc. is essential. Many of the bridges maintain a strict opening time and this must be taken into account in your planning. Plan each days route carefully. Make yourself aware of the hazards and bridges along each section. Take your time and do not have a timetable. You must allow a lot of time for a trip like this as weather and mechanical issues plus wear and tear on the crew take there toll. A strict schedule is a guarantee that you will get yourself in trouble.

If you follow the plan laid out above, none of the sailing will require an overnight passage. Travelling on the ICW at night is suicide. Plan to leave at first light and finish your trip by 3:00PM. This way, you will be able to find anchorages that are still open. It takes time to prepare meals after you reach port or anchorages and you must also plan your next stage of the journey. Have a lunch packed before you depart each port/anchorage to eat along the way. All of this is time consuming and cannot be short circuited without consequences. Call ahead to marinas and book a slip. Do not be afraid to cancel if the situation looks bad and find an anchorage. Do not push your trip. Take each stage in a conservative manner and you will have great memories of the adventure. Push it and you will have nothing but nightmares about "what ifs". The number one rule in a cruising sailors life is as captain "NEVER TAKE A TRIP THAT WILL SCARE THE WIFE". If you are a small crew, as is typical, it only takes pushing a bad situation to result in a grounding, a rough passage or exhausting the crew to result in the wife/partner saying " I am out of here".

After you are on the boat for a few days you will get a pretty good idea of what average speed you can attain under sail, under power and motor sailing. When planning your passages either outside or on the ICW use the average of these speed to plan your legs. Expect to do a lot of motoring. We did a lot more than we ever expected. A great sail outside is a wonderful experience but getting the correct conditions to do the leg in a reasonable time are rare.

Provisioning the boat is important. Do not load up on can goods. If you select your marina stops at significant cities you can take a taxi to a grocery store and resupply. Enjoy the cities you stop at. Many of the cities like Southport are rich in history and are fun to walk around. A meal at a restaurant is a great crew pick me up. Anchoring out in a secure location is what cruising is all about. The stars are so bright and the sound of nature is everywhere. Ensure your boat has screens for all open hatches or you will become a meal for every biting insect for miles around whether anchoring out or in a marina.
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Old 11-03-2018, 10:25   #25
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

For the skinny water sections: learn the phrase...proceed on half tide rising...
Fairwinds
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:13   #26
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

It's worth highlighting one fact to help you guard against going aground. The ICW is a commercial waterway and is travelled by tugs and barges. These vessels take wide turns and the channel is dredged/maintained with this in mind. So don't "hug" markers, particularly on turns, as the channel is often 30-50' inside of the marker. In short, pick your line like you're driving an 18 wheeler, not a go-kart.

When you can, just stick right in the middle of the marked channel. There are stretches also with crab pots on either side which act as defacto channel markers as the traps are placed on the slope from shallow to deeper water where crabs travel.
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Old 11-03-2018, 15:28   #27
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

Thanks again for good advice.

Regarding running aground, is that a huge concern with a 4'6" draft, as long as you stay roughly within markers?

I did sail some in ICW in between Mobile AL, and Panama City, Florida on a friends boat. We barely touch some sand with similar draft when we completely missed a marker.
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Old 11-03-2018, 15:53   #28
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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Originally Posted by Alex_V View Post
Thanks again for good advice.

Regarding running aground, is that a huge concern with a 4'6" draft, as long as you stay roughly within markers?

I did sail some in ICW in between Mobile AL, and Panama City, Florida on a friends boat. We barely touch some sand with similar draft when we completely missed a marker.
I seriously doubt 4' 6" will be a problem. If you screw up on staying in the channel it all has a good tide.
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Old 11-03-2018, 20:13   #29
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Re: Sailing the ditch - Annapolis to Beaufort

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I seriously doubt 4' 6" will be a problem. If you screw up on staying in the channel it all has a good tide.
Iíve sent you a P M with an offer from my brother to get some great advice and help for your trip.

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